Monday, March 30, 2020 (Tulsa, OK) – The Child Abuse Network celebrates April’s status as Child Abuse Prevention Month every year as an opportunity to educate the public of CAN’s role in child abuse investigations and how to report abuse, and with current global events, that message is becoming even more critical.
“The community response to Coronavirus is necessary to help avoid transmission and illness; however, it may inadvertently be putting children at risk of abuse and/or neglect,” said Dr. Christine Beeson, DO, First Year Fellow, Child Abuse Pediatrics. “With stressed parents working from home along with added financial strain coupled with school closures, it is a ‘powder keg’ for families to experience unprecedented amounts of stress. Our child abuse and neglect experts anticipate seeing an increased number of child abuse and neglect cases as social distancing continues. We hope that by increasing awareness, we can increase the strength of families in Tulsa and prevent abuse from happening in our community during this time.”
The Child Abuse Network oversees the Children’s Advocacy Center where a multi-team approach to child abuse investigations is employed. By offering all the investigative services under one roof with the child’s welfare and emotional well-being as the focus, CAN helps to reduce the trauma for children and their families involved in child abuse investigations.
The Child Abuse Network has created a page of resources on their website at www.childabusenetwork.org to help families find the information and help they need during this difficult time. Additionally, the Children’s Advocacy Center is operating under revised procedures to safely serve children and their families as needed.
“We have implemented new processes to keep our staff and clients as safe as possible,” said Maura Guten, CAN president and CEO. “Their health and safety is first and foremost, but we’re also very concerned for the children we aren’t seeing at the Center, and who aren’t in regular contact with a caring adult like a teacher or school counselor. It’s up to the community to step in and keep these children safe, which is why it’s so important to report any suspected child abuse or neglect.”
Calling the Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-522-3511, allows the appropriate authorities to open an investigation, gather facts and protect the child if they’re being harmed in any way – that includes physical or sexual abuse as well as inadequate food, shelter, or supervision. More than half of all child abuse cases are reported by teachers who see and interact with these children almost daily. Without their daily presence, underreporting could lead to fatalities. Additionally, homes with a history of domestic violence are at greater risk of child abuse. Calling the hotline allows those who may be in danger a chance to be seen.
Beeson also offers the following tips for navigating home isolation:
Physical distancing with social engagement. We need socializationfor mental health. Go outside, video-chat and stay socially connected, via apps, FaceTime, or Google hangouts.
Have realistic expectations. Being realistic about what you can accomplish during this disruption to normal life will help ease stress and anxiety, and allow for future planning. Be flexible.
Encourage reading for you and your child.
Foster creativity. Connect with your child through various activities, like drawing, painting, playing board games, building a fort, or cooking together.
Exercise daily! There are kid-focused yoga videos on Youtube for free as well as “dance parties” you can easily find online. There are also many home workouts aimed for adults of every fitness level and for every age.
Utilize educational resources for screen time. There are numerous online resources available you can access at www.childabusenetwork.org.
Lean on your community resources. If you belong to a faith-based organization or social group, find what they offer online. Many organizations are currently offering online streaming services to continue connections.
Talk to your kids about the crisis. There are multiple resources online on how to discuss Coronavirus and stress with your kids. You can find links to them on CAN’s website at www.childabusenetwork.org.
Ask for help. If you feel your stress is getting the best of you, reach out to a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor (safely). Separate from your child and call for help.
Report suspected abuse/neglect. Every person in Oklahoma is required by law to promptly make a report if they have reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. The Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-522-3511.
Stay informed. Keep up to date on current information via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Child Abuse Network began as a project in 1986 with the Junior League of Tulsa before becoming an official organization in 1988. It provides collaborative services to Tulsa County’s most vulnerable children who are involved in a child abuse investigation or an assessment. For these children, CAN is a safe place to come, be heard and be helped. In fiscal year, 2019, CAN provided services for nearly 1,600 children. Last year, there were 2,685 substantiated child abuse cases in Tulsa County.